"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"
THE BENEFITS OF THE USE OF MYRRH
IN HERBAL PREPARATIONS
HISTORY OF MYRRH
Through the time span of its rich history and usage, myrrh’s fragrant and alluring aroma has been an inspiration to writers, poets, aristocrats, merchants, priests and civilizations, and has held an esteemed position in many cultures as an effective medicinal herb. The name myrrh comes from the Arabic word morr which means “bitter.”
In fifth century B.C., Herodotus noted that the Egyptians used myrrh as an embalming agent. Egyptian women also burned myrrh pellets to rid their homes of fleas as well as to mask the stench of the day due to lack of proper hygiene and sanitary conditions (Innvista).
During the time of Christ, myrrh was one of the most highly valued commodities in trade and was cherished as a precious oil (ABC). It was used by the Hebrew people to anoint the altar and sacred vessels of the Jewish Temple, and was one of the three gifts given by the Wise Men to Jesus Christ when they paid Him tribute (Christopher, SNH 505). Myrrh was used in a purification procedure used to beautify the women who were presented before King Ahasurerus of the Medes and Persians when he was choosing a queen. This is mentioned in Esther 2:12, “…for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with other things for the purifying of the women”(Rainbow Study Bible 636-637).
Myrrh has a long history of therapeutic and medicinal use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. In this system of medicine, it is currently used internally to treat mouth ulcers, gingivitis, pharyngitis, respiratory conditions, stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth), several female complaints, and topically for ulcers and gum conditions. Sometime during the seventh century A.D., it was introduced into the Chinese and Tibetan systems of medicine. The Gyu-zhi, or Four Tantras, by Chandranandana, was the earliest Indian medical text to be translated into Tibetan during the eighth century A.D.(ABC). The Chinese call myrrh, mo yao and have used it in Chinese medicine as a wound healer since before the time of the Tang Dynasty (Innvista). In this form of medicine myrrh has been used to treat impact injury, incised wounds, hard to heal wounds, sinew and bone pain, menstrual blockages, and hemorrhoids, as well as pain and stiffness, swelling, bruising, blood stagnation and as a dissolvent for masses and fibroids (ABC)(About).
Myrrh was among the 65 herbs that Samuel Thomson used regularly in his herbal practice. Samuel Thomson was a self-taught American herbalist, who brought an herbal revolution to the United States that angered doctors of his day. Time after time he proved that herbs could be more effective than medicines such as mercury that were being used in the late 1700’s. He was particularly fond of myrrh’s antiseptic and cleansing properties (Griggs 161). Dr. John R. Christopher, was a Naturopath and Herbalist who practiced and taught herbology in the mid-1900’s during a time when herbs were scorned by the medical profession at large. The School of Natural Healing, was one of the legacies Dr. Christopher left behind that contains much of his herbal knowledge and experience. In this book, he says, “Myrrh stimulates the flow of blood to the capillaries and gives a warm and pleasant sensation of the stomach. It increases the number of white blood corpuscles up to four times of the original, when there is a need for fighting infection, and quickens the heart action. It enhances the eliminative function of the mucous membranes in the bronchi and genito-urinary tract, at the same time disinfecting those tissues and reducing mucus discharge from those specific areas.” Dr. Christopher also included instruction on how to use myrrh various applications. He gave preparations for sore throats, ulceration of the mouth, tongue or throat, chronic diarrhea, skin conditions, bronchitis, bad breath, colic, flatulence, hemorrhoids, diphtheria, shock, congestion, rheumatism, sprains, bruises, and as a treatment for worms (500-504).
Myrrh gum resin and myrrh tincture are both recognized as official in the German Pharmacopeia, and approved in the Commission E monographs. The tincture form is official in the Standard License monographs where it is used as a component of many dental remedies, mouthwashes, ointments, herbal paints (an herbal preparation “painted” on the skin), and coated tablets. Bed sores, gingivitis, stomatitis, infant oral Canadensis (thrush), and relief of prosthesis pressure marks are some of the ways these preparations are applied. Myrrh was formerly official in the United States Pharmecopia and National Formulary. In these books, it was indicated as an aromatic, astringent mouthwash. The British Herbal Compendium indicates use of this aromatic herb as a gargle to treat pharyngitis, tonsillitis and as a mouthwash for gingivitis and ulcers. Its use is also suggested externally for sinusitis and minor skin inflammations. In France, topical use of myrrh is approved for the treatment of nasal congestion from the common cold, small wounds and as an anodyne to treat infections of the buccal cavity (cavity between the jaws and cheeks), and the oropharnyx (part of the throat at the back of the neck, including the back of the tongue, the soft palate and tonsils). It is also noted in the Pharmacopia of Austria, and the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia as an antiseptic (ABC).
by Rebecca Joy Knottnerus